Stephen Hawking is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist who is widely considered to be one of the greatest scientists alive today. He is currently the director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology, University of Cambridge.
Early Life and Education:
Born on 8 January 1942 to a biologist father, Hawking had two younger sisters. He was an average student at school, deeply interested in science. After winning a scholarship in natural sciences, he acquired a degree in physics from the University College, Oxford. Thereafter, Hawking also studied astronomy and cosmology at Trinity Hall, Cambridge.
Contributions and Achievements:
In his early days at Cambridge, Hawking was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a motor neuron disease in which the nerves controlling the muscles become inactive while the sensory nerves function normally. Due to this sustained condition, it normally takes him about 40 hours to devise a 45 minute lecture.
Hawking is known for furthering Einstein’s theory of general relativity with quantum theory. He has about twelve honorary degrees. Awarded the CBE in 1982, he became a Companion of Honor in 1989. He received numerous awards, medals and praises. Hawking is also a Fellow of The Royal Society and a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences. He was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
Stephen Hawking is working as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics since 1979, a position once held by Sir Isaac Newton. Arguably the most famous scientist alive today, he is considered a living legend for his amazing contributions to quantum physics.
A highly successful active lecturer and author, Hawking makes use of an adaptive communication system known as Equalizer to combat ALS. It involves a speech synthesizer. Using the Equalizer, he has authored a book and several scientific papers and lectures, though he is capable of speaking at a mere rate of 15 words per minute.
Hawking’s 1988 book “A Brief History of Time” quickly became an instant best-seller and was translated into 30 languages. It has sold over 10 million copies worldwide to date. His 2001 book “The Universe in a Nutshell” is hailed as a masterpiece in the history of modern physics.
Stephen Hawking got married to Jane Wilde, a language student, in 1965, and together they have three children and one grandchild.
The couple got separated in 1991. As of 2009 Hawking has been almost completely paralyzed.